Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Time to Set the Scene is NOW!

You walk into a room and there is a fire blazing in the hearth, a comfortable chair is beckoning and there is a throw draped over the arm of the chair. What does a scene like that make you want to do? If you are like me, it would be to put on some relaxing music and either curl up with a good book, (in my case it would either be a novel or a recipe book) or cuddle with husband and children while we chat. The scene was set, and it evoked a response. The scene is inviting and relaxing and somewhat sentimental.

It is time to set the scene for a new year ahead now that school has resumed, students are back at it and University students have concluded orientation week and are coming to terms with the reality of going to classes and actually studying while on campus. Who knows, perhaps they will learn something? Has the scene been set for learning? Let us hope so.

You want to exercise more, you have good intentions to be more active. Or you have a goal you want to reach, you want to do 12 push-ups in a row without collapsing, or you want to be able to do "the plank" for 3 minutes or perhaps you simply want to go for a walk on a consistent basis. Perhaps you are training for a half-marathon? Whatever your goal, it requires some structure. Do you work out in a crowded basement while tripping over furniture, toys or boxes to get to the treadmill? Are your dumbbells half buried under piles of stuff? Do your children interrupt your treadmill time? Do you have to drive through a maize of construction to get to the gym which only causes you to become stressed?  If so you have not set the scene for success. First of all safety is an issue,  (so no tripping over stuff to get to gym equipment, please make space for safe exercise) and secondly if the thought of going to your workout space is not appealing, you are less likely to do it! The only exercise that works is the one you WILL DO.

What emotion does the idea of your chosen form of exercise evoke? Are you excited and rearing to go. Is your space uncluttered and inviting? Have you planned your time slot and guarded it against the instances in life where circumstances threaten to steal away your "me time"? Is your schedule overloaded and so you are trying to squeeze in too much?
If not, there are two things we need to address:

1. Setting the scene
2. The Force of Habit.

When I train at the pool, the scene is set, I have the pool, my coaches, the pace clock and my fellow swimmers. I put my swimsuit on and my body knows what to expect when I walk onto the pool deck.

In the same way, whether you are working out elsewhere or at home, take note of the scene that has been set. Do you associate your environment with positive, healthy activity or do you think of it is a negative way? If you exercise out of guilt for the brownies you ate (unless they are these) then you will work out in an aggressive, stressful way almost as a means of punishment. These emotions will release stress hormones, adrenalin and then in the long term cortisol which inhibit weight loss. If you are going to the gym with this attitude, you may just be sabotaging your efforts. Set the scene in your mind for an enjoyable workout, an invigorating run, and you will be benefiting both body and mind while you go ahead with your exercise.

Do you get up in the morning and have to remind yourself to get dressed and brush your teeth?  I have to do this to my 8 year old, but as a "grown up" it has become habit, (Thanks to my mother!)I no longer need reminders. In the same way, people who are active do not need to remind themselves that they HAVE TO work out, it is just something that they do, part of their life, just like brushing their teeth is. Just like my 8 year old, it may take a bit of reminding and training to get into the habit in the beginning, but once you have formed the habit you have the benefit of the "force of habit" working for you. A word of warning though, if you repeat bad habits, then you have the force of habit working against you. If stopping at dairy queen on the way home from the gym is a habit, I suggest you take a different route home and substitute that destructive habit with something positive like a steaming cup of peppermint tea when you get home.

For example, when I hop into the pool for a training session, I automatically do a warm up swim, just out of sheer force of habit. It would not occur to me to do anything differently. It is a habit. I don't have to talk myself into it, or think about it, my body just knows what to do. In fact it is quite liberating because I don't have to think about it and my mind can wonder and think about other things while I swim.

Now if I were to use this same force of habit in other areas of my life, it would make the task I am trying to accomplish easier, and let me tell you a secret, we only put off doing things because the THOUGHT of doing them is more unpleasant than the actual task, and the FEAR of doing it, or not doing it right, is more real to us than the actual exercise. So keep in mind, that Nike really was onto something when they said:


By Melony Teague
To subscribe to my consolidated newsletter, Click here

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments.